On one of the drizzly rainy days we spent in Taupo recently we thought it would be a bit different to visit Aratiatia Dam to see the gates open where water would flow through to the river below. At the top normally this boat and it's owner take people out for jetboating experiences, I've done that before in Queenstown and it's really not my thing.
The huge gates had opening times of 10am, 12pm or 2pm, we chose the morning one. You can either stand on either side of this bridge and look over or walk down a designated track next to one end which is what I did.
This shot was taken while standing on the bridge facing both the gates. The name "Aratiatia" means "Stairway of Tia" after the legendary Maori explorer Tia who first arrived at the rapids and was fascinated by the tiered form.
This memorial stone says "This Kohatu is dedicated to the people of Ngati Tahu-Ngati Whaoa. Near the Aratiatia Rapids was the settlement 'Atahaka' one of the many Maori settlements. Atahaka had cultivations, cherry trees, burial places and a river crossing place nearby".
There were 2 tracks, this one took 10 minutes to walk down to and the other took about 30 minutes as it leads further up for a higher view.
We heard 3 loud sirens, starting at 15 minutes 5 minutes apart and then the gates slowly opened letting water through which falls 20 metres in the space of 1 kilometre. The rapids have been harnessed to produce environmentally sustainable hydro-electric power and the station was first built in 1964.
So apart from not being allowed to swim there for obvious reasons this place was part of a memorable scene from the movie "The Hobbit - The desolation of Smaug" when the dwarves are escaping from the captivity of the elves by hiding in barrels which were thrown down stream.